Category: Learning At Home

How to Create a Homeschool Schedule for a New School Year

How to Create a Homeschool Schedule for a New School Year

Are you a new homeschooling mom? Maybe you are considering preschool at home or you have decided to homeschool your Kindergarten or 1st grade student. It can be overwhelming: from curriculum to to socialization, everyone has an opinion.  Creating a flexible, effective homeschool schedule doesn’t have to be hard, though. Read on for a step-by-step plan to create a weekly homeschool schedule, and be sure to scroll down for our free printable template download.

4 Steps to Creating a Homeschool Schedule

Image of a child's hand holding a pencil with a text overlay: How to Create a Flexible Homeschool Schedule for the New School Year

Identify Your Child’s Learning Style

Every one of our children learn differently, and discovering how our children learn best can definitely impact our daily homeschool schedule. My own two daughters are both auditory learners which means we can “double-dip” — listening to memory work in the car or during play time. If you have kinesthetic learners, you can take some of your lessons outside for gym + math facts or spelling practice.

Click here for more about learning styles.

Determine Your Family Culture

Some families love to be on the go! In homeschool learning, that may look like co-ops, park days, sports and music classes, plus additional playdates and extracurriculars. While children can certainly learn outside of their home “school,” be sure to take everyone’s personality styles into consideration when setting up your weekly schedule. Since we have two introverts in the family, we try to alternate between “at-home” days and “activity” days.

Click here to learn more about personality styles. 

Choose Your Subjects

A major benefit of homeschooling is combining multiple skills and subjects into one lesson. If you choose to use unit studies or interest-based learning, you’ll be amazed by how much content you can cover in a shorter period of time.

We also don’t have to teach every subject every day. We do math and spelling five days a week, but many other subjects can be covered with just one lesson a week! Since our girls are major readers, I don’t “teach” reading every day. We cover phonics during spelling and comprehension during read-aloud and history lessons.

Map Out Your Weekly Homeschool Schedule Visually

When we were first getting started with homeschooling (seven years ago!), I struggled with the idea that our schedule varied from week to week. Using a homeschool planner didn’t work for us, so I created a template that I could reuse week after week.

It really simple!

  1. Print off the schedule template.
  2. Fill in all “out of the house” commitments: classes, events, appointments first.
  3. Add in family “cornerstones,” like naps/rest time, meals, read-aloud time, etc.
  4. Look the available pockets of time that are left, and see what lessons you can fit in. Remember that young children learn best through play, and the goal is not to finish every lesson in the book, but to master one new skill at a time.
Image of computer on desk with text: "How to Create a Homeschool Schedule for the New School Year

Download our printable weekly template!


Example Homeschool Schedule

All summer long, we have done read-aloud time first in our day. For our fall semester, we decided to move read-aloud time (and other fun topics!) to after lunch. Since both girls will have a heavier workload this year, we’ve decided to do our core subjects immediately after breakfast, when we’re all feeling our best.

Here’s a peek at our fall homeschooling schedule:

  • Morning chores & breakfast
  • Classes will start at 9:00 a.m. (I’ll start with Katie’s lessons while Addie completes her independent work. Once Katie has finished, Addie and I will do math and grammar together.)
  • The girls will have lunch and outside time from noon until 1:30. I’ll use most of that time for lesson-planning and blog-writing.
  • At 1:30, we’ll come together for read-aloud time, music, art projects, and AWANA memory work.
  • From 2:30-3:30, the girls will have independent reading time, finish up any school work, and play quietly.
  • At 3:30, they’ll be officially “dismissed” until dinner time.

We have gym class on Wednesday mornings, so our schedule will be a little different one day a week.


Colorful pictures of toys with a text overlay: Preschool at Home | FREE Parent Mini-ClassMaking a homeschool schedule for your family may require some trial and error for a few weeks until you find something that feels comfortable for both you and your kids. If you would like some support getting started, click here to join our free parent mini-class.


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Two school-related images (container of markers, child writing) with words: How to Create a Homeschool Schedule for a New School Year

Letter Recognition Activities for Preschoolers

Letter Recognition Activities for Preschoolers

It’s hard to believe I’ve been involved in education for nearly two decades now. I’ve gone from working one-on-one with struggling students to a classroom teacher, from tutoring small groups to teaching “mommy and me” sign language and early literacy classes. Again and again, I come back to working with preschool and primary grade students (and their parents) because it’s a crucial time to instill a love for learning that lasts a lifetime.

In our Facebook group and in my one-on-one chats with parents, I’ve noticed one skill comes up more often than others: learning letter names and letter sounds.

In my mind, the best early literacy activity is simply reading aloud to our kids. There is no program or app that has a better track record than the powerful connection of a caring adult, a good book, and a willing child.


Click here for our favorite read aloud resources.


However, in my experience both as a teacher and a mom, some skills do need a little extra direct instruction. When it comes to teaching letters to toddlers and preschoolers, I will always recommend hands-on, FUN learning activities.

From an early age, our younger daughter showed us that she preferred choosing her own activities. By rotating her toys and setting out invitations to play every afternoon, she has become confident at directing her own learning.

What is a parent’s role in teaching letter names and letter sounds?

It’s simple, really.

Filling your home with books, stocking your toy closet with open-ended toys, and understanding how your child learns best will go a long way toward early literacy success.

So which books and toys are best for letter recognition?

Read on!

Letter Recognition Activities for Preschoolers | ABC games, learning letter names, learning letter sounds, early literacy, tactile activities, learning through play

(Reminder: Rolling Prairie Readers uses affiliate links at no additional cost to you. You can see our full disclosure policy here.)

By nature, most young children are hands-on learners. Our favorite TACTILE (touch) letter recognition activities are:

Wooden Letter Puzzle

Magnetic Letters

Foam Letters

Letter Stamps

ABC Cookie Cutters

We also use cut-up pool noodles for a tactile spelling activity. You can start with just single letters for toddlers and preschoolers. As your kids get older, start adding in other spelling rules like double consonants, blends, chunks, etc. (Isn’t it fun when an activity can grow with our kids?)

Picture of cut up pool noodles with text: 12 hands-on ABC learning activities

My older daughter (a visual learner) also loved these two-piece letter puzzles and our ABC books:

My younger daughter (an auditory learner) loved this CD and our sign language DVDs/CDs:

Finally, some of our favorite letter recognition activities come out in our seasonal play. Leftover plastic eggs are great for making homemade ABC games!

 


Download our plastic egg activities here.


It is my sincere hope that this post has sparked some ideas for letter recognition activities that you can do at home! If you need MORE ideas, I would love for you to join our free Facebook group or schedule a one-on-one chat with me.

Learning Math at Home in a FUN Way

Learning Math at Home in a FUN Way

We tend to focus a lot on early literacy around here, but I also believe math readiness is just as important for our young children. Whether your child currently loves math or not, we should try to make learning math FUN at home! 

For years, I’ve heard stories (tall tales?) about the battles over math flashcards between my husband and his mom. She would literally chase him around the dining room table, trying to convince him to sit down and practice. To this day, he shudders whenever I say the word “flashcards.”

Learning Math at Home in a Fun Way | math play activities, card games, number sense, hands-on activities, learning through play, place value, learning math for kids, learning styles

 

Learning Challenges

In all my years of teaching (both as a classroom teacher and as a homeschooling mom), I’ve realized no two children learn the same. Very often, we hold a child responsible for his/her own learning challenges. We might call them inattentive or lazy, rather than look at the curriculum or teaching style.

Over the last two years, I’ve watched my own daughter struggle with mastering her math facts. Her issues mainly stem from a lack of confidence and feeling pressured when being timed. To counteract her negative feelings, we spend a lot of time talking positively about math.

Learning Styles

Equipping our children to deal with math challenges often starts with learning about growth mindset. Discovering a child’s learning style can also help us (and them!) find specific, tailored strategies to attack the problem in a fun, fresh way.

Teaching my daughter (a visual learner) how to quickly draw a picture or make a diagram while solving word problems has made a world of difference. For the longest time, she thought she had to do all the work in her head!  

My other daughter is an auditory learner. She has quickly picked up her math facts, just by listening to her sister practice with me each day. We also listen to a lot of skip-counting songs while we’re in the car.


Want to learn more about learning styles? Click here!


Starting Early

I’ve realized that all children deserve a solid math foundation in the early years. Rather than starting with workbooks at the age of 3 or 4, we can bring in fun math games and activities. Young children often do best learning through play!

14 Simple Ways to Make Learning Math More FUN at Home | Tips and Resources for Parents of Preschoolers and Primary Grade Students

Here are some of my favorite ideas for learning math at home in a fun way!

(Reminder: Rolling Prairie Readers uses affiliate links at no additional cost to you. You can see our full disclosure policy here.)

  • Math Games

UNO is a great game for number recognition! You can also use the cards for all kinds of “mix and match” learning activities.

Rack-O is fun for sequencing.

Pass the Pigs is fantastic game to practice adding!

Set is one of our favorite family math games. Everyone can play, from the 6-year-old to the 40-year-old. It’s great for sorting and problem-solving!

  • Math Play Activities

    • Cooking is a great way to learn more about math–both measuring ingredients and talking about fractions. If you are looking for an easy recipe for your kids to create, why not try making homemade playdough? Our favorite recipe calls for mixing dry ingredients together before adding in the hot water, so your children can help in a safe way.
    • Playing store can be a fun way to learn more about money–sorting coins by “type” and counting them by 1s, 5s, 10s, and 25s.
    • Grocery shopping and going to restaurants (or recreating the experience at home in your play kitchen) can introduce the idea of budgets and making change. For older kids, you can talk about percentages in choosing a tip for a server.
  • Math Books

It should come as no surprise that we LOVE math-themed books in our house! Here are some of our favorites:


See our must-have math toys here!


We also make learning math FUN by:

  • celebrating silly holidays like Pi Day
  • polling friends & family on Facebook (favorite color, favorite fruit) and then making a graph with the data
  • playing Todo Math on our iPad
  • creating STEM projects (check out our Pinterest board)

Want to learn more about doing math at home?

If you are:

  • the parent of a child ages 2-7
  • passionate about your child’s education
  • committed to making learning at home as FUN as possible, and
  • interested in child development…

then our Making Math Fun workshop is for YOU.

Learn 10 important math skills your children need to know for early math success AND fun ways to practice those skills at home.

This workshop is available now; just click here!